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New anti-cancer drug through NHS


A new drug that could extend the lives of patients with a certain type of cancer is being made available on the NHS within the next few months.

Sufferers of advanced soft tissue sarcoma, of whom there are thought to be 500–600 in England and Wales, will be able to use the drug trabectedin (Yondelis).

It has become available due to guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommending it for the patients. The NHS will have three months to begin implementing the guidance.

The drug manufacturer, PharmaMar, agreed to meet the drug costs for any treatment needed beyond the fifth cycle of treatment. The independent appraisal committee also applied NICE’s criteria for evaluating life-extending, end-of-life treatments.

Dr Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE, said: “We are pleased to be able to recommend trabectedin for NHS use as it will provide a treatment option for some patients.”

NICE recommends treatment with trabectedin for advanced soft tissue sarcoma if: treatment with anthracyclines and ifosfamide fails; or they are intolerant of or have contraindications for treatment with anthracyclines and ifosfamide; and the acquisition cost of trabectedin for treatment needed after the fifth cycle is met by the manufacturer.

Copyright Press Association 2010

Department of Health

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